Hunting rifles are an important piece of hunting gear, so it's no wonder we'd want to have the absolute best by our side. And these folks have gone through many of the rifles out there. They've reviewed them all, and delivered us the best, giving us information on them and scoring them. So, here's a guide to the best rifles currently on the market, thanks to our pals from Outdoor Life.
This rifle was undeniably fun to shoot off the bench. It is built on Browning’s X-Bolt action and has been fitted with a 28-inch bull barrel and is nestled in McMillian’s excellent A3-5 stock. The rifle’s 9 ½-pound weight, combined with an effective muzzle brake, keeps the crosshairs rock-steady before the shot and during recoil. Chambered in 6.5 Creed, it is a natural for long-range targets.
The rifle’s heft diminishes its utility for hunting, and its limited magazine capacity doesn’t make it viable for competition. This lack of versatility cost it some points, especially in light of its $2,799 price tag.
Given the gun’s narrow focus on accuracy, we also thought it would shoot a bit better than it did. Its .945-inch group average wasn’t shabby, but we expected it to shoot at least .3 inch tighter.
Colt Competition CRP-18N
The 22 Nosler is one of the year’s hottest new cartridges, and Colt Competition is one of the first gunmakers to chamber for it. Here’s what the round does: It jacks up .22-caliber performance in AR-15-sized receivers by necking down the 6.8 Rem. SPC. The performance boost versus the .223 Rem. is impressive. With 77-gr. bullets, the 22 Nosler gains about 400 fps over the .223. In our rifle, the round also happened to be extremely accurate. We got several groups in the .6s, and the overall 5-shot group average was .849 inch, making it the second most accurate rifle of the test.
The rifle has a crisp 3 ½-pound trigger, a well-designed muzzle brake, and a comfortable handguard.
This versatile rifle would work well in competition, and for staking out coyotes and stalking deer.
Cooper M92 Backcountry
As the name suggests, the Backcountry is a rifle bred for the mountains, and a good mountain rifle needs to be light, durable, and accurate. This Cooper checks all those requirements. Plus, it balances like a fine shotgun.
Unscoped, our .30/06 weighs just under 6 pounds. The carbon-fiber stock is stiff and ultra light. The deep spirals in the bolt body and hollowed-out bolt handle save grams. The 24-inch barrel is tipped with an effective spiral-patterned muzzle brake. The Jewel trigger, with a 1-pound 2-ounce pull, is too light for a hunting rifle, however.
I was able to wring .7-inch groups from it with match ammo from Federal and Hornady, which provides the kind of confidence a hunter needs when a trophy is on the line.
Montana Rifle Company MSR
Montana Rifle Company prides itself on its Western cred, turning out stylish, hard-working guns at a fair price. So when it builds a rifle that looks like a pair of Lee Miller cowboy boots, you know folks are gonna tip their hats back and wonder if it can deliver the goods.
Well, the MSR has a lot of promise, seeing as how it’s chambered in the hot 6mm Creedmoor, and it delivered some excellent accuracy off the bench. But we had some feeding and cycling issues with the way the cartridges fed from the detachable box magazines we used—which was roughly, requiring a lot of effort at times to chamber rounds. This put a crimp in our otherwise enthusiastic response to this gun.
Apart from that, the rifle’s construction is top notch.
Mossberg Patriot Revere
The Mossberg Patriot Revere brings a whole new look to the lineup at this company, which has historically made firearms better judged on performance than aesthetics. Stocked with handsome walnut that has been upgraded with elegant touches—like a rosewood forend tip and grip cap, quality checkering, and maplewood spacers—it turns heads like no Mossberg has before.
Its performance wasn’t equal to its looks, however. We struggled mightily to wring good accuracy from this .300 Win. Mag. The best we could manage was one 1.335-inch group with Hornady 150-gr. BTSPs. The average group size was 2.5 inches, though we did have a handful of groups that measured between 1.5 and 2 inches. This dampened our enthusiasm for the rifle, especially in light of the good accuracy we’ve seen from Mossberg of late.
Otherwise, the rifle functioned well. The 2 ¾-pound trigger was consistent. By design, the action has a lot of play in the bolt, but it feeds, cycles, and ejects smoothly. The controls—everything from the two-position safety to the tab on the detachable polymer magazine—are generously sized.
Rise Armament 303H S Series
Okay, this rifle’s name is an ungainly mouthful. With that out of the way, let’s turn to its good qualities, of which there are many. First off, there are the rifle’s looks. It is an undeniably sexy number, with appealing angles cut into the billet upper and lower, and a stylishly contoured handguard. The aesthetics of this .223 translated into excellent ergonomics. The narrow handguard, with its smartly configured Picatinny rail attachment points, gives the shooter a lot of control over the rifle, enhancing how it handles and points. We also liked the 45-degree throw on the safety. The rifle was easy to control while shooting, keeping the crosshairs on target during strings of rapid fire.
If you're looking for a new hunting rifle, then you've definitely got some good options right here. Take a look at these, and browse around a bit more yourself. While you always want a high quality rifle, you also want one to suit your needs and game.
To learn more about some great hunting rifles you can buy, and other outdoor equipment reviews, please visit Outdoor Life.
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